Leading experts give their opinions on digitalization, leadership and the effect of COVID-19 on occupational safety management.

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In the annual Safety Management Trend Report, renowned industry experts from around the world share their views on the most significant developments in safety management. They conclude that overall digitalization, and advances in software in particular, have positively influenced safety management and support modern EHS approaches. With the accelerated increase of digital work in response to the coronavirus pandemic, experts consider a long-lasting impact on digital EHS management to be very likely. The Safety Management Trend Report presents a wide range of perspectives from different professionals and brings together some of the world’s leading experts, including Andrew Sharman, Davide Scotti and Eduardo Blanco-Munoz. The trend report is published annually by Berlin-based Software as a Service vendor Quentic, which provides a platform and app for Health and Safety (EHS) management and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

What are the key trends in safety management? Does digitalization and new technology make work safer? And what impact will the COVID-19 pandemic have on digital safety management? Each year, Quentic, a Software as a Service vendor providing environmental, health and safety management (EHS) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) software solutions, asks internationally renowned safety professionals about their views on and assessments of current trends. For the Safety Management Trend Report 2020, fifteen experts, from nine countries were invited to share their insights.

Digitalization and technology are having a positive impact on safety management

When asked about digital advances in safety management, the expert panel largely agrees that technological innovation has influenced safety management positively. In particular, they stress that software and mobile devices have brought structure and consistency to data inputs. This provides the basis for meaningful analysis and data-driven decision making which translates into operational improvements for both safety professionals and workers alike.

“Safety apps are now widely available on mobile devices, enabling safety practitioners to save valuable time that they would otherwise have wasted in doing paperwork”

summarizes Eduardo Blanco-Munoz in the report. 

With regards to the sudden challenges arising as the coronavirus spreads, most experts agree that safety management will benefit from the overall acceleration of digitalization in the workplace. The greatest potential is seen in the field of safety training. Interestingly, this assessment is similar to the application of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), or the Internet of Things (IoT) in the safety field. Many experts are enthusiastic about the opportunities of VR in safety training, but remain cautious about applications beyond. Effective safety management needs adequate processes and a good safety culture. Digital tools, when incorporated skillfully, can support these, but they cannot create them.

Good safety management requires a holistic approach and skilled communication

When asked about areas for improvement, the panel of experts almost unanimously pointed out to communication and leadership. Safety managers should “deliver an output that can touch both hearts and minds of our audiences” (Davide Scotti), “interpret regulatory requirements and technical concepts – and translate these into comprehensible and practical actions for managers and leaders” (Andrew Sharman) and share knowledge by training their workforce constantly. At the same time, EHS tasks are becoming more and more diversified. The question arises: do we need more specialization and does the job description need to be reassessed?

Different schools of thought – one conclusion

Each year, the Safety Management Trend Report endeavors to give a broad insight and unique perspectives on the most discussed topics in the field. A number of experts advocate for Behavior Based Safety (BBS), Safety II or are part of the Safety Differently movement. Others campaign actively for “Vision Zero”. However, they are united in a common purpose, which they share with EHS professionals from all over the world: they want to prevent harm from coming to people in their work environment. The panelists in this report therefore show great appreciation for the safety professionals, who, with their committed engagement, make work and the world safer every day.

The full report can be downloaded on: https://www.quentic.com/safety-trends